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The 10 Key Jeans Details

There are many variations made on the classic five-pocket jeans over the years. While the first pair of jeans were made as a true workwear garment, they weren’t designed as we see them today in denim stores. These jeans were called waist overalls and didn’t have belt loops, and a second back pocket for example. They were made with a cinch on the back. During the years, the design of this workwear style evolved. Since the late 1940s, after World War 2, the basis of a pair of five-pocket jeans as we still see them today was created.

Let’s focus on the 10 key features of jeans, and how they’re available today at your local denim dealer.

1. Top button

All jeans feature a top button. Most of the time this button is branded. The top button is made with a rivet head (the top) and a rivet tack (the bottom). Top buttons can be made in all kinds, from flat versions to donuts, embossed, to inlaid.

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2. Button or zip closure

In the beginning, jeans were only made with a button closure. Since the 1920s, jeans are also available on the market with a zipper. Some people prefer a button closure over a zipper, or vice versa. Many men’s jeans are made with a button, but nowadays more and more styles for men are also made with a zipper. For women, a zipper is most common, unless you take a boyfriend jeans style.

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3. Rivets

The rivet was invented in the early 1870s and patented on the 20th of May in 1873 by Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis. Since then, all jeans feature these small copper rivets to strengthen the jeans on points such as the front pockets. And sometimes also the coin/watch pocket and even the crotch. Fun fact: This years marks the 150th anniversary of the rivet patent. Take a look at original mid-1870s rivets here.

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4. Belt loops

Before belt loops were added in the early 1920s, jeans were having suspender buttons and a cinch back. These elements were skipped during wartime to save material. And after World War 2, belt loops became the standard. Belt loops are easy to use to keep your jeans up and an average pair has five of them.

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5. Patch

On the back of jeans, you can find the patch. Most common is that this patch is placed on the right back pocket, on the waistband. This patch is a perfect branding tool to showcase your brand. People can recognize easily which denim brand you are wearing. First, these patches were made in leather. Nowadays you will see more and more alternatives such as cotton canvas, PU, silicon, and the popular Jacron patches. Jacron is a unique material with a leather-like look. Perfect for printing and also embossing.

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6. Two back pockets

A regular jeans design is made with two back pockets. Back pockets can be designed in all different kind of shapes, from round to square, to zippered and cut and sewn. The most common one is designed pointed. The position, and the size of the back pockets, influence heavily how a pair of jeans look on someone’s back. Back pockets can be made clean without stitching decoration. If you take a look at the ‘Big 3’ denim brands they used it as a branding element: Levi’s with arcs, Lee with Lazy S, and Wrangler with the double W, which stands for Western Wear.

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7. Bar tacks

Bar tacks refer to a series of stitches used to reinforce areas on jeans that may be subject to stress or additional wear. You can find bar tacks at the crotch, belt loops, and back pockets for example. On back pockets, they replaced rivets to bar tacks to be sure you won’t scratch your furniture anymore. Bar tacks can be used in all kinds of different thread colors, this can also be a significant detail on a pair of jeans.

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8. Waistband

The waistband is added to the top of the jeans. It keeps many elements of a pair together. Elements such as the front and back panels, and the inner pockets, but also belt loops are attached on the top. On the inside of a waistband, many brands use this part to add labels for sizing, model, or any other brand info.

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9. Yoke

The yoke is the v-shaped part at the back of jeans. It’s placed under the waistband, needed to give a pair a certain shape. This to make the jeans fit properly. The deeper the yoke, and thus the v is shaped, the bigger the curve.

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10. Coin pocket

The small pocket on the front of jeans is most of the time called the coin or watch pocket. In fact, it was added in the first place to carry matches for miners when they were going into the mine and used them to light their candles.

Most classic jeans these days feature five pockets. It was in the early 1900s that the fifth pocket on jeans was added. This was the left back pocket. Most people think that the small coin/watch pocket was added last, but in fact, this pocket was there since the beginning. The term ‘five pockets’ is standard nowadays, which refers to a timeless jeans design.

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Learn More About Denim!

In case you want to learn more about denim, this to train yourself, store or brand staff, send me an e-mail to: I’m happy to discuss the opportunities how we can achieve this!

Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.